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View Full Version : Can Anyone Suggest a Hard-Boiled PI Novel?



Begbie
07-28-2006, 02:41 PM
I'm in the market for some good hard-boiled Private Detective novels. I'm currently reading Raymond Chandler and Mickey Spillane. Can anyone suggest others? Any more recent novels in the genre?


Thanks!

alleycat
07-28-2006, 03:15 PM
Dashiell Hammett, James Ellroy, Ross Macdonald, James Crumley, James Cain.

Not all of their books are PI novels, but much of their work is of the "hard-boiled" type.

Gillhoughly
07-28-2006, 05:40 PM
Anything by John D. MacDonald, especially his Travis McGee series.

He also wrote the novel (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0449131904/102-4394973-1306514?v=glance&n=283155)that got turned into the films Cape Fear. (I prefer the Gregory Peck version.)

Anything by James M. Cain. The Postman Always Rings Twice (http://www.amazon.com/s/102-4394973-1306514?ie=UTF8&index=books&rank=-relevance%2C%2Bavailability%2C-daterank&field-author-exact=James%20M.%20Cain), Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce, etc.

Lawrence Block's (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_b/102-4394973-1306514?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Lawrence+Block&Go.x=7&Go.y=5)early stuff.

Donald Westlake's (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0843953578/sr=1-13/qid=1154093515/ref=sr_1_13/102-4394973-1306514?ie=UTF8&s=books)darker stuff, the Parker novels, one of them was the Mel Gibson film Payback.

And Hard Case Crime (http://www.hardcasecrime.com/)is reprinting old classics and buying new stuff. You can read samples on their website.

I've enjoyed Dick Francis (http://www.amazon.com/b/102-4394973-1306514?ie=UTF8&node=69424), learned a lot from him.

And ditto five times over, Adam Hall (http://www.amazon.com/s/102-4394973-1306514?ie=UTF8&index=books&rank=-relevance%2C%2Bavailability%2C-daterank&field-author-exact=Adam%20Hall), who taught me how to write, whether he knew it or not. It's spy stuff, but I consider it noir and he's the writer Ludlum wishes he could be.

Wow.

Kate Thornton
07-28-2006, 06:12 PM
And ditto five times over, Adam Hall (http://www.amazon.com/s/102-4394973-1306514?ie=UTF8&index=books&rank=-relevance%2C%2Bavailability%2C-daterank&field-author-exact=Adam%20Hall), who taught me how to write, whether he knew it or not. It's spy stuff, but I consider it noir and he's the writer Ludlum wishes he could be.

Wow.

Quiller was my introduction into noir spy - and one reason why I can look back on a 23+ year career in the intel field.

Cathy C
07-28-2006, 06:33 PM
Rex Stout (if you can still find them) - Nero Wolfe series.

Begbie
07-30-2006, 05:26 AM
Thanks, everyone!

nevada
07-30-2006, 09:54 PM
Andrew Vachss from what I remember had a series with a PI who was as hard-boiled as they came. He had a big, mean dog too. The PI, not Vachs. I think the dog's name was daisy, but I can be making that up. I do remember that he'd trained the dog to attack on the command sit. I should check them out at the library. I remember really liking them. Of course this was 16 yrs ago.

edited: I just checked my library and he's not listed under Private Investigators. The character's name is Burke, and he does check things out, but maybe he's not a PI in the strictest sense of the world. Still worth checking out though. I think i'll go to the library today.

My-Immortal
07-30-2006, 10:00 PM
Donald Westlake's (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0843953578/sr=1-13/qid=1154093515/ref=sr_1_13/102-4394973-1306514?ie=UTF8&s=books)darker stuff, the Parker novels, one of them was the Mel Gibson film Payback.

Donald Westlake wrote those using the pen name Richard Stark. Mel Gibson's Payback is loosely (and I say that because Gibson changed the character a bit to make his Porter character more sympathetic) based on the first book in the series The Hunter. Lee Marvin's 1967 movie Point Blank was also loosely based on the same book.

Take care all -

MMo
07-30-2006, 10:24 PM
_Early_ Spenser books by Robert Parker would probably fit this description, and maybe even Parker's fairly recent Jesse Stone mysteries. Both of these protagonists come really close to being antiheros. Mo

Jamesaritchie
07-30-2006, 11:54 PM
Robert B. Parker's Spenser novels are very good. And try Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder novels.

Lee_OC
08-01-2006, 06:11 AM
Andrew Vachss from what I remember had a series with a PI who was as hard-boiled as they came. He had a big, mean dog too. The PI, not Vachs. I think the dog's name was daisy, but I can be making that up. I do remember that he'd trained the dog to attack on the command sit. I should check them out at the library. I remember really liking them. Of course this was 16 yrs ago.

edited: I just checked my library and he's not listed under Private Investigators. The character's name is Burke, and he does check things out, but maybe he's not a PI in the strictest sense of the world. Still worth checking out though. I think i'll go to the library today.

The Burke series is one of my absolute favorites.

btw - the dog's name is Pansy. :)

Arden
08-01-2006, 06:28 AM
The Burke series is one of my absolute favorites.

btw - the dog's name is Pansy. :)

Was Pansy:cry:

I named my dog Burke in honor of this series. She weights 180 pounds, like Pansy on a slim day.

Lee_OC
08-01-2006, 07:06 AM
Was Pansy:cry:

I named my dog Burke in honor of this series. She weights 180 pounds, like Pansy on a slim day.

Yeah. I thought "was" would be too much of a spoiler.

180 lbs...ummm, I wouldn't want your dog to sit on me. eep!

soloset
08-01-2006, 10:05 AM
Anything by John D. MacDonald, especially his Travis McGee series.

[...]

And Hard Case Crime (http://www.hardcasecrime.com/)is reprinting old classics and buying new stuff. You can read samples on their website.

I've enjoyed Dick Francis (http://www.amazon.com/b/102-4394973-1306514?ie=UTF8&node=69424), learned a lot from him.


Seconded! The McGee series is even more fascinating when you contrast it with real life events and changing attitudes over the decades. I'll never forget reading the Green Ripper after getting used to the laid-back, easy-going style of the earlier ones... it fit, but it was a shocker.

I've got a couple of the Hard Case Crime novels waiting on my "to read" stack; I tried to get a copy of Westlake's 361 a few months ago and it was a whopping three or four hundred bucks, used. The reprint is considerably less. :)

If you're going to try Dick Francis, may I suggest Break In and Bolt? I know he's got some others that are more classically hard-boiled (Whip Hand comes to mind) but Break In is more appealing (IMHO).

And, of course, Ed McBain -- I was reading a lot of the 87th Precinct at the time and picked up one of his Matthew Hope novels (Beauty and the Beast). I remember it as being hard-hitting, a bit disturbing, and very raw.

Josie
08-02-2006, 02:28 AM
Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone series is excellent.

However, Jesse Stone is a cop and a good one. Another "However", he lives like a P.I. on the edge. Love the character.

I can hardly wait for the next book.

Soccer Mom
08-02-2006, 02:58 AM
I like J.A. Jance's JP Beaumont series. Those have a good hard edge to them.

nevada
08-02-2006, 07:19 AM
Pansy. Daisy. It's a flower. I'm really bad with names so that was really, really close for me. Was? Pansy's dead? Poor puppy. I'm going to have to get them from the library and start right at the beginning again.

Shara
10-21-2006, 01:01 AM
I would actually recommend Sara Paretsky for fans of hard-boiled crime fiction.

Her PI, VI Warshawski, is female, so she often gets slung into the 'feminist fiction' category. But Warshawski drinks whisky. She shoots people and gets shot at (usually at least once per novel). She sleeps with whomever she pleases (including suspects). In my mind she has more in common with Phillip Marlow than Nancy Drew (who the character was compared with early on, being as how there weren't many female sleuths around at the time).

Shara

Gary
10-22-2006, 01:20 AM
For years, I was hooked on Richard Prather's Shell Scott books, but I don't know if they are in print today.

Gary
10-22-2006, 01:26 AM
I like J.A. Jance's JP Beaumont series. Those have a good hard edge to them.

I buy all of her books too, and I enjoy JP's adventures, but I find his character a bit too feminine. I prefer the stories that take place in Arizona, even though I spent 30 years in the Seattle area and can relate to the people and places she writes about.

Josie
10-22-2006, 03:11 AM
My favorites these days are Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone series and
John Sandford's Prey series.

I don't know how hard boiled you'd call them.

Cheers :)

Gravity
10-22-2006, 08:18 AM
Yeah. Mine. :D

Axler
10-23-2006, 05:27 AM
For years, I was hooked on Richard Prather's Shell Scott books, but I don't know if they are in print today.

They're available as ebooks...I prefer the Fawcett/Gold Medal editions with the Robert McGinnis covers.

Mr. Prather is still alive and recently finished his final Shell Scott novel...allegedly it's 5,000 pages long.

Fawcett/Gold Medal published the best hard-boiled thriller/suspense series of all time...there was Stephen Marlowe's great Chester Drum, the Sam Durrell "Assignment" series by Edward S. Aarons, the aforementioned Travis McGee, as well as the aforementioned Parker series by "Richard Stark", the Matt Helm series by the immortal Donald Hamilton, the Joe Gall series by Philip Atlee, and the Earl Drake "Operation" series by Dan J. Marlowe.

To prove they were equal opportunity hard-boliers, Gold Medal also published the Modesty Blaise series by Peter O'Donnel.

UrsusMinor
10-24-2006, 09:59 AM
Several folks mentioned Lawrence Block. I seond the motion, and will be even more specific: read Eight Million Ways to Die.

For something quirky but still hard-core, give Michael Gruber's Tropic of Night a look.

MMo
10-24-2006, 10:04 AM
For something quirky but still hard-core, give Michael Gruber's Tropic of Night a look.

Michael Gruber was excellent when he was ghosting Robert Tanenbaum's Butch and Marlene Karp legal mystery/thrillers. Is he as good on his own?